Being a Better Developer... in 6 months

I've been a little behind in blog-land (both reading and writing, gasp) as other things have occupied my time. However my good friend Justice tagged me in his update on how he's going to be a better developer over the next 6 months so naturally I can only reply, and tag 5 more people. Yes, this is like the tell 5 things about someone but with a geek slant and I think it's more interesting this way. So here goes...

Reading

I have a list of books I normally keep on my shelf. These include Domain Driven Design, Test Driven Development and such and I plan to re-read some of these in the next 6 months (to me, something like Applied Domain Driven Design by Jimmy Nilsson you can read over and over, but then I'm a geek). For new stuff, I'm consuming Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed by Adam Nathan right now and getting into that and I'll round it out to say that I'm prepared to soak up 3 new books over the next 6 months. Sometimes I can gobble up a book in one sitting, but for the most part I suck one down then go back to it over the course of a few weeks to really did into the nitty gritty parts (and maybe write some small spikes to really grok a subject, like WPF will be for me).

Writing

Other than my blog, I intend to have a few new articles published that are currently in the works (MSDN Magazine, O'Reilly, etc.) and generally keep the pace I have on my blog. I'm no Oren and you'll never see 150 posts in a month from me (other than "All work and no play makes Bil a dull boy"), but I intend to keep up the pace to around 20 good posts a month. This is an increase from last year and who knows, maybe with some hallucinatory inciting drugs, I can get posting 150 times a month with some choice stuff.

Speaking

The speaking schedule this year is a little slow thanks to baby and family (which is the way it should be) but I'm still heading out to amuse and bemuse you from time to time. The next 6 months will be a few user groups (Edmonton and Calgary specifically, but I'm open to others and you can contact me through the MSDN Canada Speakers Bureau which is painfully out of date) and I'm just submitting some talks to DevTeach Vancouver. Hopefully I'll get in, but the competition is tough and I might not make it it depending on how many heavy hitting Agile guys there are out there who are far better than me (and there are a lot of them). I don't consider myself a great speaker but I have passion and try to emote that through my presentations with a little humor. The best advice I got from some of the top speakers out there is to keep doing it. So if you're like me, get out there and just do it. Speak at your own company first, or user groups then move up to the conferences if you like it and you think it's your thing. I get a lot of satisfaction when someone comes away from a session I've done and uses it in their day job. Maybe you can get the same.

Community

I have my own personal vanity site (down right now thanks to an unsuccessful DNN upgrade) at bilsimser.com and it really needs to get it rebuilt. It's been such a pain as I try to find content, yet I have 200 gigabytes of code, documents, snippets, articles, tools, projects and games that I've written over the years that needs to get out there. Why? Because I like to share and let people dissect what I do. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger type of thing. So in the next 6 months that will come online and I'll get lots of goodies up there to share with the rest of the class.

Learning

I think learning is the key to growth. I'm a sponge. I see a new toy, tool, technology, etc. and just soak it up. Although for me there's an initial soaking-inception-phase where I test the waters to see if I'm really going to like this. I talked to John Lam long ago about Ruby and still have yet to pick it up but some day (maybe now that Silverlight can do it dynamically I'll take that approach). One thing about learning is that you can't learn everything yourself. Don't be afraid to ask stupid questions. I find the MVP group and the Agile guys out there are a wealth of information. I'm often emailing people for hints or ideas or just to bounce things off them. Many times I just get back a nugget with something so subtle but I fit it into my work and I feel I'm a better developer for it. So more of that as you can never know enough.

Code, Code, Code and more Code

I feel you can only get betting by doing it. For me, that's writing code and trying out new things. I constantly refine what I consider my reference architecture for applications. I have one for Smart Clients, one for SharePoint Apps, and one for Web Apps and keep them lean and simple. They're not templates but more like guidelines so any time I spin up a new project I use it and tweak it, then incorporate those tweaks into new applications. I code every day even if I have a day full of meetings so I'm going to keep doing that. I think it's important to be there in the code (even though technically I'm an "Architect") as things change and the software is build from code, not Visio drawings. Like speaking, the more you do it the better you get. So code, code, code everyday until you drop.

Okay, so here's my tag list. These 5 dudes, should they choose to accept this mission, should be telling you on how they're going to be better developers over the next 6 months (and you see from the list, it's going to be tough as these guys are already at the top of their game, however everything can be improved):

  • Scott Hanselman - You can't improve perfection, but it's great to peek inside the mind of the great ones from time to time.
  • Oren Eini (Ayende Rahien) - Because he's probably writing this up right now anyways, and doesn't really post enough.
  • Jeremy Miller - Because all of the books on his "Books that Influence me" post are my library too, I'd like to see what else makes J tick.
  • Jeffrey Palermo - For all the times I've misspelt Jeff's last name (including this post)
  • Rocky Lhotka - Because Rocky needs a reason to stop posting about CSLA ;)

Enjoy!

Update: Strangely enough, I was supposed to tag 4 peeps, not 5. However this gives Rocky, Scott, or Oren an out since both J's accepted my challenge and are prolly writing up the blog to institute world peace as we speak. Maybe after the first 6 months I should learn how to better read other peoples blogs.

1 Comment

  • Holy cow!! You are the man for tagging these dudes. Interesting to see what transpires.

    I am definitely looking forward to seeing your revamped site! Thanks for doing this.

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